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Virtual mufti: Dubai launches 'first ever' artificial intelligence-powered fatwa service Open in fullscreen

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Virtual mufti: Dubai launches 'first ever' artificial intelligence-powered fatwa service

Virtual Ifta will use artificial intelligence to deliver religious rulings [AFP/Getty]

Date of publication: 31 October, 2019

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The AI-powered program, called 'Virtual Ifta', takes religious questions over an internet chat and responds with the appropriate Islamic ruling.
Dubai launched the "world's first" Artificial Intelligence (AI) fatwa service this week.

The AI-powered program, called 'Virtual Ifta', takes religious questions over an internet chat and responds with the appropriate fatwa, or Islamic ruling, Gulf News reported.

It is currently able to deliver a religious ruling for roughly 200 questions related to prayer, Tariq Al Emadi, Head of Fatwa Section, Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department (IACAD), told Gulf News.

The service replaces the traditional approach by which an Islamic scholar answers a question face-to-face or over the phone.

Virtual Ifta was officially launched by IACAD at The Boulevard, Emirates Towers in Dubai on Tuesday, where a three-day exhibition allowed visitors to experience the new service.

Currently still in its first pilot phase, Virtual Ifta is available online on the IACAD website in English and Arabic.

In its later phases, the AI service will be available on Whatsapp and cover more topics such as fasting, ablution and others, Gulf News reported.

On the IACAD website the service is available by clicking on the "Chat with us" icon.

After selecting the question's topic, a message reads: "Dear Questioner, the answers to your questions are generated automatically using AI technology. Despite taking precautionary measures, errors are always possible. Please contact us in the event of any error. May Allah reward you."

Grand Mufti at IACAD, Mohamad Ayada Ayoub Al Kobaisi, said Virtual Ifta will help deal with the large amount of fatwas received by the department - around 130,000 a year, according to Khaleej Times.

Concerning the accuracy of the fatwa generator, Al Kobaisi was quoted by Khaleej Times as saying: "[If] the virtual assistant is not 85 percent sure about the topic/question asked, it will not respond."

In this case, the AI-powered service will give the user the option of similar questions or ask for the question to be rephrased.

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